The Nine Best Art Shows Happening in L.A. Right Now

They’ll give you something to talk about at Thanksgiving dinner (besides the election)

The Science Behind Pixar at the California Science Center

Through April 16

Pixar has the most compelling defense yet for paying attention in high school physics: If you’re good enough at it, you can opt out of the whole engineering thing and land a job making animated movies. The science, along with other STEM concepts like geometry and trigonometry, is an unsung but necessary part of Pixar’s eight-step filmmaking process, known as The Pipeline. The megastudio’s techniques come to life at the California Science Center, where interactive workstations let you create a stop-motion film with Pixar’s iconic swing-arm lamp or manipulate the lighting in a scene from Up.


The Recurring Dream at the Fahey/Klein Gallery

Through December 16

Most of the photographer Rocky Schenck’s painterly dreamscapes blur the line between fantasy and reality, prompting incredulous internal dialogue: This is a picture, right? He didn’t really see a dead body in that pond—right? Ask him to break down a photo’s components—its location, its setup—and you’ll remain unsatisfied. “I prefer that viewers use their imagination to decipher my images,” he says. “It’s best to just shoot and shut up.” Schenck hand-tints his work with oil paint, a technique that allows him to modulate the color palettes (and in turn the realism) in each shot. This exhibition features images from his second book, The Recurring Dreamreleased earlier this year.


Creature at The Broad

Through March 18

The Broad’s latest installation, Creatureuses the work of several artists to examine the intersection of human behavior and animal instinct. A number of pieces skew sinister, such as Thomas Houseago’s 15-foot sculpture Giant Figure (Cyclops) (above), while others—like Jeff Koons’s Metallic Venus—evoke beauty and wonder.


Becoming America at The Huntington

Permanent wing

Early American decorative art often gets short shrift in its country of origin, but the Huntington is highlighting pieces from collectors Jonathan and Karin Fielding in a 5,000-square-foot gallery that opened in October. The exhibition features more than 200 works spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, with objects as utilitarian as a handmade boot scraper displayed alongside geometric quilts, painted furniture, and more.


Jeffrey Vallance: Now More Than Ever at Edward Cella Gallery

Through December 31

What more could there be to life once you’ve written your own “bible” or served as an MTV Rock Jock in the ’80s? If you’re Redondo Beach-born artist Jeffrey Vallance, you head to Edward Cella gallery for a solo exhibition. Expect to see several of the artist’s new drawings—including some presidential campaign propaganda for, um, himself—as well as a stationary installation.


America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West at the Los Angeles Public Library

November 17 through February 26

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The Central Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library commemorate the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death and his influence on the Americas. A number of fascinating artifacts will be on display; Get a glimpse of a 1623 First Folio (a compendium of 36 Shakespeare plays), and explore Shakespeare’s impact on Hollywood through footage, memos, and photos from the making of films like 1935’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with William Powell.


John McLaughlin: Paintings: Total Abstraction at LACMA

Through April 16

McLaughlin was a proponent of the West Coast Hard-Edge style; his paintings feature colored rectangles on muted backgrounds that invoke self-contemplation. A selection of 52 works by the late abstract artist are on view at this LACMA retrospective.


Isa Genzken: ‘I Love Michael Asher’ at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Through December 31

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German contemporary artist Isa Genzken was profoundly impacted by the time she spent in Los Angeles with conceptual artist Michael Asher. This exhibition at DTLA behemoth Hauser Wirth & Schimmel—Genzken’s first large-scale solo exhibition in the United States—features an interior installation of new works that honor her friendship with Asher as well a three-story-high sculpture of a rose (a specialty of hers) in the gallery’s courtyard.


State of Mind: Picasso Lithographs 1945-1960 at the Norton Simon Musem

Through February 13

#Picasso’s most celebrated lithograph is “The Bull,” which evolved over eleven states from December 5, 1945, to January 17, 1946 🐂. In his memoirs, Fernand Mourlot recalled his printers’ bafflement at the progress of this design from a naturalistic wash drawing to a willfully, wittily crude stick figure: “The printers were distressed to see such a magnificent bull transformed into a kind of ant … Picasso saw they were a bit confused; it was no doubt this that excited him. It was Célestin [another of Mourlot’s printers] who had the last word: ‘Picasso ended up where one ought to begin.’” • Now on view in “#StatesofMind: Picasso Lithographs 1945–1960.” ______________ Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Various states of “The Bull,” © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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The Norton Simon museum has more than 700 Picasso prints in its collection (one of the world’s most robust reservoirs of the artist’s work). This particular exhibition focuses on 86 lithographs—drawings that could be created, printed, reworked, and printed again in a second, third, or thirtieth state—that Picasso made over the course of fifteen years.